After nearly every game for the past few years, Kevin Hayes would FaceTime his brother Jimmy to discuss how the night unfolded.
Now, after Jimmy’s death in August, Kevin said it still feels strange playing for the Flyers and knowing that Jimmy isn’t watching or there to chat afterward.
“He honestly was my biggest supporter,” Kevin told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.
Kevin, a Dorchester native and Boston College product like his brother, played in front of a hometown crowd Thursday night. Beforehand, he spoke with Kaplan and discussed his brother’s legacy.
Jimmy played for the Bruins from 2015-17. He died with fentanyl and cocaine in his system at age 31 in August — a revelation his family shared in hopes that “getting Jimmy’s story out there can save someone’s life,” his father said.
Kevin, 29, is forever grateful for the unwavering support his brother showed over the years.
“He still was in the NHL while he was telling everyone how good I am and how much better I am than him,” Kevin told Kaplan. “It’s just a relationship that not a lot of people have.”
When Kevin scored his first goal of the season against the Calgary Flames, he pointed to the sky and made sure to retrieve the puck for Jimmy’s 2-year-old son, Beau. He said “a lot of emotions” came through as he thought of his brother.
He said he’s incredibly thankful to everyone in the NHL — including Jimmy’s close friend Brad Marchand and the rest of the Bruins — for continuing to support the family months later.
Kevin said that everyone had their back in Dorchester during their childhood, and they both appreciated how the community stuck with them as their careers evolved and they switched teams.
“It was crazy going to get coffee and seeing these little kids wearing Hayes jerseys and Hayes T-shirts,” Kevin said. “As you get older, you kind of realize the impact you’ve had on people’s lives. People would come up to you and say, ‘My kid wants to be the next Kevin and Jimmy Hayes.’ That’s cool.”